The Battle for the Souls of Children

Recently, I read two articles dealing with the new effort by atheists to spread their teachings by trying to “evangelize” children.  The New Atheists’ aim is to get rid of Christianity and remove all vestiges of religion and belief in God from society.

Having failed to reach their goal with the majority of adults, people who are already religious, the new evangelists for atheism are trying a new tactic: they are trying to reach children whose religious formation is still in the developmental stages.

Richard Dawkins, the famous atheist who wrote The God Delusion, a book whose purpose is to discredit Christianity and seek new converts to their movement, has published a new book, this time aimed at children, designed to introduce children to the magic of the universe, a universe that religious people seek to explain through “made-up” stories.  The book, The Magic of Reality, was reviewed by Meghan Cox Gurdon, a writer who specializes in children’s book.

The review of Dawkins’ book was published in The Wall Street Journal.  Below is an excerpt from the article:

That young people might come to see poetic magic in the scientific method and the natural world is not, however, sufficient for the author of “The God Delusion,” the 2006 best seller. A crusading atheist, Mr. Dawkins has ridden his hobbyhorse into the children’s section of the bookstore. There is no doubt that he hopes to relieve young readers of any primitive vestigial religious belief to which they might cling.

In each chapter, dramatized by Dave McKean’s colorful graphic artwork, the author recounts the “made-up” and “fun” stories of various religious traditions. We are invited to smile at the idea of miracles and to regard as charmingly quaint such colorful individuals as the Hopi spider-woman goddess, the Tasmanian god Dromerdeener and the famous “Jewish preacher” who turned water into wine. Mr. Dawkins ranges widely across all manner of religious belief, so it is worth noting that he never mentions Muhammad or Islam. Perhaps he did not want to offend.

The second article was written by Luke Bretherton, a Reader in Theology and Politics, and convenor of the Faith and Public Policy Forum at King’s College in London.  His article was published in Religion and Ethics.  Below is an excerpt from his article:

The Humanists’ programme follows in the footsteps of two prominent atheist children’s authors Philip Pullman and Michael Rosen, who in 2006 produced a course on atheism for schools, called “Why Atheism?”

The DVDs featured a “disbelieving” Christian, Muslim, Jehovah’s Witness and Hindu explaining why they rejected their religion; a Belfast journalist detailing life in a community divided by religion; and humanist celebrants conducting funerals, weddings and a baby-naming celebration.

In 2009 the American group called Camp Quest started up in the UK. Camp Quest is billed as an alternative summer camp for the children of “atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers and all those who embrace a naturalistic rather than supernatural world view.”

One advocate of the Camps is quoted as saying: “We want to provide a space where people can learn that it is OK to be an atheist and that a lack of religion does not mean a lack of morals or ethics.”

What we see shaping up is a battle for the souls of children. But in the process we need to ask a question about what is happening to the “soul” of humanism and atheism?

Read the two articles by following the links.  You can also watch the video: Teaching Atheism to Kids.

The Bible emphasizes the importance of parents in the religious education of their children.  The Lord told the people of Israel: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

If Christians fail to teach God’s word to their children, someone will teach them another reality about the world in which we live. This new teaching will emphasize that the world was created by magic since there is no creator to bring the world into existence.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).


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2 Responses to The Battle for the Souls of Children

  1. Dan says:

    Dr. Mariottini, thank you for bringing this to our attention. This ought to serve a warning to all who work with children within the church, including Sunday school teachers, youth group leaders, and pastors, that it is important for our youth to have a solid intellectual grounding for their faith from the beginning.


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